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First knockout game of the year

"No easy task" for Bayern in Berlin

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Bayern are expecting a special match under the floodlights of the Olympiastadion for their DFB Cup last 16 tie against Hertha BSC on Wednesday afternoon (live ticker coverage from 2:45 EST). “Evening games give you a different adrenaline level,” described Niko Kovac in his press conference ahead of the first knockout match of 2019. “One mistake can cost you and then you’re out!”

The 47-year-old returns to his home city, where he suffered his first defeat as Bayern coach in September. “We lost the away game there this season and obviously want to make amends for that,” added Kovac. “For one thing, we want to get through to the next round and as well as that we have a score to settle. It’ll be a hard battle, hopefully with a happy ending for us.”

Tough task in Berlin

That wasn’t the only time that the ‘Old Lady’ have fared well against Bayern in recent years. Since their 3-0 win at the Allianz Arena in September 2016, Hertha are unbeaten in four games against FCB – a statistic Kovac is well aware of. “It shows that the team are always fired up, motivated and play out of their skin, especially at home.” The news that Thiago and Franck Ribéry are both fit again is therefore all the more welcome.

“Hertha have improved terrifically and under their coach Pál Dárdai they play attractive football that gets results,” said Jérôme Boateng, who like his coach was born and bred in Berlin. The centre-back expects Bayern “to play with full concentration and full commitment from the first whistle at the Olympiastadion, in order to progress.” That will be “no easy task”, though, as Boateng reiterated.

Bayern looking to continue cup run

The visitors from Munich can take encouragement from the fact they’ve reached the quarter-finals in each of the last 12 years, and they’ve progressed to the semis in the last nine. Bayern therefore have nothing to fear from the statistics, and they also have the respect of their opponents. “If we’re not at our maximum it’ll be difficult,” commented Hertha boss Dárdai. “But if we work well together as a team, we’ll get chances – even against Bayern.”

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